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Don’t Judge Me Until You’ve Walked Ten Thousand Steps In My Stilettos

A while back I had yet another Bridget Jones moment and unfortunately it was in front of a large group of students who were loitering about in the hallway in front of my office.  I had to navigate through this sea of students to get to the ladies room, when I left I had to do the same.  But this time I was walking down the hallway towards my office with my navy blue Ralph Lauren dress tucked into my pantyhose.  Yes, that’s right I walked a good ten feet in this state until I walked past the receptionist and she saw me and thankfully she yell at me saying “Oh God!! Stop!!! You have to fix your dress!!!!”

I quickly turned around and she ushered me into the back of her desk area, which was conveniently out of sight of what seemed like the Spartan 300 group of students all standing there.  And this wasn’t even the most humiliating part of all this (imagine that?).  As I walked back towards my office, I had to pass three girls all primped and primed in business suits and I overheard one say to the others “Who wears pantyhose nowadays anyway?”

I knew that what I did next was wrong, but I felt the need to do it because let’s face it, we have all be in our twenties thinking to ourselves we’re never going to get old.  So I thought I’d “educate” this young, fresh millennial as to why women like me still wear pantyhose.  I turned around and casually said “Well dear” I said sternly “I still wear pantyhose like many other women do because we can’t pull off going without.  I don’t have the great knockout legs I had in my twenties like you all have, and you won’t either when you get to be my age.  Which by the way isn’t even past fifty yet, so while you are running around wearing your short skirts and tanning your legs remember, as you get older things sag and wrinkle, then veins will appear in places you never thought they would.  And one day you will begin to wear hose to hide the imperfections of nature’s cruel joke called aging.  I also hope that when your forty-nine years old you will run into a smug little girl who makes an insensitive comment in front of you and you will remember what I just told you. I am your future ladies live and learn!”

I turned and walked back into my office and the receptionist held out her hand in a hi-five gesture as I walked by, I slapped her hand and went back to work.  I hate that even now, at forty-nine I feel like I get bullied for things that seem normal to me, like something as simple as wearing pantyhose.  I have always thought of myself as fashion conscience, and believed that I have gotten better as I’ve gotten older.  Like a fine wine, wiser and now have the money to buy the types of clothes I like to wear.  I am old school in certain things and as Dolly Parton said in the film Steel Magnolias, “I haven’t left the house without Lycra on these thighs since I was fourteen” because even when I was young, hose to me were classy and sophisticated.  It’s not for everyone I have to admit.  But I don’t think I need to explain why I chose to wear them.

Out of my embarrassment came a certain sense of self, and even though I might have been wrong to say what I said to that twenty-something year old, inexperienced, self-serving, entitled student, I had to say it because I refuse to feel ashamed of who I am, how I look or what I do to anyone. PERIOD.

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Part 26…………Your so Vain You Probably Think This Blog Is About You, The End of Lestat.

“You’ve been wearing that crown and tearing me down, It’s been a while since you’ve treated me right, You strung me along for far too long ’cause I never gave up the fight, until now” – The Band Perry, Done.

I had no tears to shed or emotions to feel, I was narcotized by everything that happened.  I felt so stupid for everything I allowed this asshole of a man to do to me over the course of twenty motherfucking years.  I also felt used, betrayed and despite of all of these emotions I still felt nothing.  Like a blank piece of paper with nothing to remotely explain why I was in such a state.  Terri began to ask me how I felt and I told her all of it, she stared at me and said “Let it go, if you want to cry, cry don’t keep it in.”  I looked up at her and said “I can’t, there’s nothing there to let go of.  I think I pretty much did that the day of the rental truck incident and the day at the Denny’s parking lot, I feel nothing.”

She sighed (again don’t know if it’s out of habit or what?) and said “Have you accepted that love is no longer a factor here.  But as an addict there will be side effects once you do begin to feel.” “Side effects, what side effects?” I said as I stared at her with confusion, I mean I’m not a chemical dependent like a drug addict.  She began to explain saying that my side effects would be emotional.  She sat back in her pink chair and said “Addicts go through withdrawals, and you will too eventually.  Not chemically like a heroin addict but emotionally.  You will start to miss the bad relationship, you will miss his presence and you will miss those crumbs of time you said he gave you.  It’s inevitable, you will start to go through this and you need to be prepared.”  I hadn’t thought about relationship withdrawals and what the fuck are those like?  Since I’ve never used drugs all I can explain how I might feel is I’ll have the equivalent to a hangover, or trying to quit eating chocolate croissants.  Yes that’s it, a relationship hangover, and I thought I’d be prepared for that.

The first month or so of my last and final separation from Lestat was pretty easy, it went by smoothly and I hardly thought of him at all which made me proud of myself.  Then it hit, the stupid relationship addict withdrawals, the cold shakes, the sweats (emotionally) the needing a fix.  And by fix I mean driving to work and scanning oncoming traffic for a sign, any sign of his truck.  Going to the mall and scanning the crowd for his face.  Looking through his kids social media and wanting to see any recent pictures of him.  But I knew that, “that” particular fix would end in emotional cutting.  Seeing pictures of him with his idiot wife Fiona and his horse faced Stepford children would only send me spiraling down into an all-day pajama, messy hair bun wearing, chocolate croissant eating, laying on the couch, mushy chick flick watching, journal writing depression.  I mean there are only so many times your eldest son can say “in your robe all day again ma?” before you throw a Tupperware full of cold moldy cheese tortellini at him and then say “Sorry I thought I was aiming for the trash can.”

The fact that I was aware of this, I knew I had to do something to prevent it from happening.  Although I’d slip back into this kind of behavior every so often without even realizing it.  Driving to and from work for instance, I mean I could take a different route that didn’t take me past one of his businesses.  But it would take me almost fifteen minutes longer to get to work.  Yeah that’s the excuse I used for a long time.  I told Terri what was happening and she said that I had to fill my time with positive things to do, workout, clean, a book club, go out with friends, clean my back yard and plant that herb garden I’d been talking about.  Anything that would fill my time, the time I use to spend with Lestat and catering to his every need.  I told her I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to do it, I felt as if this is the one thing I was going to fail at, I mean other than failing at the Titanic of all relationships.  Holding onto that big wooden door of dysfunction like Kate Winslet cold, wet and emotionally frozen, watching Leo DeCaprio sink into the abyss of the icy, wet darkness (okay I know, you get the point).

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So what did my brilliant therapist do?  She gave me charm for my Pandora bracelet in the shape of small silver wings.  She said that every time I accomplish another month of relationship sobriety I would get another charm.  I mean am I being bribed, or am I actually accomplishing this sobriety thing? It took a while for me to actually, actively stop doing a lot of those annoying things like looking for him in traffic, emotional cutting myself by looking at his kids social media, passing by his favorite bar only to see his Corvette parked outside knowing full well he was only there to pick up whatever barfly he could to get laid because I knew damned well he wasn’t getting laid at home.  I had to keep remembering I wasn’t in love with him, I was an addict and it was hard but eventually I stopped, then all I was left with was the vacuum of solace.  The deafening silent, solitary life I was forced to live due to a very bad man and his selfish, emotionally draining tendencies.

It’s been almost seven months into my Emotional Vampire sobriety and sometimes I still struggle with blank spaces of time, with chocolate croissant eating, chick flick watching days but not nearly as often.  Now I have to find a way to keep busy so that the addict in me won’t fall off the relationship rehab wagon, because I know now all I miss is the misery.  I know I’m not in love with him anymore because I don’t worry about him, his health, his well being, his businesses I don’t care.  This was something I realized when Terri asked me if I remembered the last time I talked about his illnesses.  I told her I didn’t, and then without thinking I said “And I don’t fucking care, that’s what his wife is for” and she smiled at me and said “Now you are over him, when you don’t care about him in any aspect.  This is progress.”

I was so use to misery I have no idea what a good healthy relationship is and that alone is a struggle.  I wonder if I ever find myself in another relationship, will I, can I handle that? But right now I’m not looking I need time to heal.  Terri said I needed to find my bliss and gave me a copy of Joseph Campbell’s book Pathways to Bliss.  I’ve read it more than once in order to keep my focus, finding that bliss that only comes with loving yourself.  Accepting who you are and all the awesome abilities one has, like realizing that there was nothing and I do mean nothing Lestat could give me that I couldn’t get for myself.

Now THAT is power, finding out you have the capacity to do and get what you want without having to rely on anyone else even if that someone else was the person you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with.  It’s coming to terms with all that shit, and that’s hard, it takes time and ultimately acceptance of the result.  As well as accepting that my actions had a lot to do with how Lestat behaved and treated me.  It also made me see Lestat not as a thirty-six year old, tall dark and handsome, 6’1 cowboy.  I now saw a middle aged fifty-five year old man, very overweight, thinning hair, double chin and same old plaid shirt, Wrangler, roper wearing man, standing in the Denny’s parking lot grasping for his youth and whatever power he thought he still had over me.  Only to realize that this woman who stood in front of him was no longer enamored by his vampire like magic.

This is the strength that I never thought I’d find because I was so in love with this man, the strength of being Myiagied, being ignored, dismissed and taken for granted year after excruciating, heartbreaking year.  He and he alone managed to kill the love I once felt.  He let the one woman who would have truly loved him unconditionally slip through his greedy, cheating, lying hands.  But I can honestly say, he’s too stupid to realize this but that’s okay with me, because I know what I brought to the table.  This woman who at one time loved him so deeply I would have died for this selfish bastard.

I still haven’t found Prince Charming or his horse Carlos, he may still exist if only in the myths we keep hidden away in the recesses of our minds.  What I do have is hope, that someday I might meet a nice guy (even at my age) and that we might have a fighting chance after my experience with Lestat.  Knowing what to do and not to do and maybe not judge him (whoever his is) too harshly based on the experiences of my past.  Lestat might still try to contact me, because he’s a narcissist and I truly believe he thinks I will love him until I die, boy would he be surprised.  But now he’s an afterthought in my life now, not where he wants to be.  The motherfucker still has his wife, his kids, his business and all his assists he didn’t want to lose half of in an imagined divorce that played out in his head, so he can stay right where he’s at.  I also realized that karma has been in his life all along.  He has to stay in a marriage to woman he doesn’t love (so he says) but only “cares” for.  He has to endure waking up next to someone with questionable intelligence and that won’t have sex with him.  He has to stay married to someone who will never show any interest in what he does, his businesses or him in general.  He will forever have to endure the boring daily routine of “pretending” he’s a happy husband and father, and that is THE ultimate karma in my eyes.  All of that is payback for twenty years of what he put me through.

Everything I’ve come to learn about an emotional vampire, co-dependent behavior and dysfunctional relationships is all because I was on the brink of either homicide or destruction of property.  I have many friends who saw me through the worst parts of being with Lestat, and I appreciate them greatly.  But most of all, I couldn’t have gotten this far along without Terri and her amazing ability to strip away the myopic, rose colored glasses I had worn for twenty years of my life.  She allowed me to figure out for myself that Lestat wasn’t who I believed him to be.  She didn’t candy coat anything and her brutal honesty was at times hard to take, but she said she couldn’t help me if I didn’t wanted to be helped.  That’s when I realized that I needed help in order to break away from Lestat and his emotional manipulation.

She helped me find the inner strength she said I had, but because I allowed Lestat to push it back in order to keep control of my presence in his life.  Terri is a godsend, I owe her so much, and yet she says “It’s my job to help those who think there is no help” and I appreciate her helping me.  The end of Lestat doesn’t mean the end of Terri, I still have a long way to go but now I can concentrate on other issues in my life now that “the” big issue is gone.

What do I have after twenty years?  In the past I would have said nothing, but that simply isn’t true.  My brilliant therapist put it to me this way, she said “You were able to overcome becoming a teenaged statistic, you became a mother at sixteen, married a man you weren’t even sure you loved.  You married him believing you were doing the right thing for your son.  You were able to grow up while raising a son, then having two more in the muck and mire that was a very one sided marriage.  You knew you had to leave that marriage no matter how much it was going to hurt your boys, and with that you walked out into the unknown. You found yourself divorced at 28, then met a man you honestly believed loved you and he probably does.  But you found yourself in yet another relationship where you gave your entire body and soul, getting very little in return. And in the midst of all of this personal and physical chaos, you managed to educate yourself, you got your Bachelor’s and then your Masters, and finally you found your dream job.

Yes, you filed for bankruptcy to save yourself and what little you had in order for you to build you financial life.  You were Myagied by the man you loved, who taught you in the harshest of ways to take care of yourself.  Now you have three adult children who are all doing well, because you raised them.  You are now in a job you have wanted for a long time, you are financially stable for the first time in your life, all of this and without a man!  You have accomplished so much in the thirty-two and half years you were with these two selfish and immature men in your life.  And yet you are still standing, you didn’t let anything knock you down because you knew you had to keep going for your boys, for yourself and your sanity.  You’re getting ready to buy your own house, you have everything you ever wanted from Lestat, and without realizing you got it all on your very own.”

That’s Terri for you, what an absolute jewel I have in her.  Before I began therapy with her, if anyone had asked me what I had after twenty years with Lestat, I would have said I have nothing. But, she made me see that what I have after all these years is a new found sense of self, independence and self-assurance, I don’t depend on anyone for financial stability, security or emotional reassurance.  This Cinderella has realized that waiting on Prince Charming and his horse Carlos is time best spent putting on that shiny armor, picking up that sword to cut away all the ties that remain of Lestat. I will ride away on my own horse into the unknown that is my future, and I’m going to do it wearing stilettos because after all, I am FABULOUS!

The End

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Part 25…………………Feeding the Alligators and Lestat’s Last Stand

“Screaming deceiving and bleeding for you, and you still won’t hear me.  Don’t want your hand this time I’ll save myself, maybe I’ll wake up for once”-Evanescence

It’s not uncommon for someone in therapy to question their therapist’s manner of helping you, it’s actually part of the process.  After everything I had gone through with Lestat I began to tell Terri that I was beginning to tire of not only talking about him but writing about him as well.  I still had this overwhelming urge to keep these stupid journals about him and I had sworn to burn them once I bought my house.  She told me that it was actually a good idea that I have a plan for what I’m going to do with them and not keep them forever.  She also began to breakdown every aspect of my time with Lestat and make me see what he’d done to me all these years.  During this time I was at the end of my ever fraying rope with Lestat and our toxic, twisted, dysfunctional, emotionally draining relationship.

It was August of 2018 he had gone to San Antonio five times since he said he’d bought a house “for his kids” which was about four month prior.  Not only was he buying a house, he was having it built to his specifications, because he’s a fucking control freak and obsessive compulsive asshole.  His kids are grown ass adults but in spite of his son owning his own business and his daughter being a sophomore at UTSA, and he still supported them financially (both of them).  Something that the motherfucker couldn’t do for me when I needed a little help.  And I don’t mean support in the sense that I sat around the house watching Netflix all day doing nothing.  I mean helping me when my power got cut off in the middle of summer.  Or paying my rent for a few months while I caught up on my bills.  Or hell, letting me stay in one of his rental properties for a year while I saved money to become financially stable.  Yes, he has rental properties but never offered me any kind of “real” help.  I say real because as Terri pointed out, his type of help came few and far between and it was for his benefit and not mine.  When I explained to her how he bought me appliances for my apartment and how he fixed up that apartment she explained what he did and why he did it.

She said he could have bought me those appliances himself after all he’s a landlord and he’s buying appliances for his properties all the time.  The reason he didn’t was because he didn’t want any kind of trail, monetary or otherwise to connect him to me so he asked me to go and get an account with Lowes.  He fixed up the apartment to make himself comfortable while he visited me every Saturday for two years.  Terri mentioned that if he really wanted to help me he wouldn’t have made it so hard for me, he would have just done it, period.  She asked me to think about all the times I spend trying to justify his bad behavior, making excuses for him and why he didn’t get a divorce, thinking he would change.  She also told me that even though after every breakup, I secretly wanted him to text or call and when he did it was just co-dependent behavior on my end.  She said that him communicating with me made me feel wanted, after everything he’d put me through, this was the misery I was addicted to.

She explained that after every time we’d separate he would actuall try and make his marriage work, it didn’t matter if he loved his stupid wife or not.  Terri said that he would leave me with full intentions of working on his relationship with Fiona.  Only to realize that he was the only one that was trying because Fiona didn’t think she had to anymore, he “trained” her so she didn’t have to try.  After each and every try, which lasted either a couple of days or a week at the most, he’d see that it was futile in nature and then he’d call or text me because he indeed realized (yet again) the person he was married to was like staring into that airline toilet seat, round, hollow, uninteresting and full of shit.  She explained that is the reason he was always the one to initiate communication with me, because I was the most interesting person he knew and without me in his life he had nothing but money in the bank and Fiona Shrek at home with the IQ of a river rock.  This took a while to sink in as I thought he’d always call because he actually loved me.  She said he probably does love me, but as she explained before he wasn’t sure he wanted to find out if I’d stick around or leave knowing I might get bored of him, you know, like I am now.

As I thought back on all those things I remembered, his biggest fear was for me or anyone actually, was to think of him as a bad guy.  He would always say “I know I’m a good guy, I work hard and make an honest living” but little did he realize that he was the worst of the worst.  His ideas of what type of person he is, was distorted and warped, just like a narcissistic emotional vampire thinks of himself.  For example, this “good guy” would ask me get down to pay/pump gas in my car (when we were using my car to avoid using his truck so he wouldn’t get recognized) while he stayed in the car waiting for me.  He said that would make him feel like a complete dick because he was worried about what people at the other gas pumps would think.  Well guess what?  He was/is a complete dick! It was all about appearances, that’s how an emotional vampire thinks.  He would continually say that he knew his worth that he never did anything dishonest but I knew him way better than he realized.  I began to see the small and dishonest things he’d do and that carefully sculptured façade began to crack.  One Saturday morning while we were sitting outside underneath my back porch taking in the summer sun and playing chess, we got to talking about everything we’d been through together.

It was a bad habit we had when one or both of us felt tension in our not-so-perfect relationship.  Let me explain how fragile his ego really is, we got into the habit of playing chess for fun and it soon turned into a knock-down, drag-out type of competition.  We both got good at chess (well as good as one can get playing with the same person over and over) and he would win the majority of the time.  But when I would beat him, he’d give up and he wouldn’t want to keep playing.  Terri explained that it was his ego taking a beating and he didn’t want to go through that more times than he had to.  So we began to remember when we’d first met and how we’d gotten to that point in our lives etc.  Then I mentioned (casually, I really didn’t think about it) that he’d treated me bad on more than a couple of occasions in spite of his “good guy” persona.  The look on his face changed and I mean drastically, he actually looked surprised, shocked and in utter disbelief that those words had come out of my mouth.

He stopped dead in his tracks and just sat there, no words, silent as if engrossed by the very idea that he could have possibly treated me bad, imagine that?  I could tell he was having a hard time believing it because according to him he’s never been anything but generous and loving towards me.  Boy was this a wakeup call and the emotional vampire did not like it one bit and by this point in my therapy with Terri, I didn’t care what he thought or believed.  The silence was unbelievably awkward.  Finally he went back to our chess game but after that day, I could tell he was still thinking about what I had said.

Three days later came the culmination of all the emotional turmoil and thunderous explosion that was my now jaded and angry heart.  He had asked if I could take a couple of days of vacation leave so we could spend those days together.  I stupidly said yes and then he said we could go to a hotel like we use to when we first met and spend those days alone with no interruptions or distractions (which I’m assuming he meant my son who lived with me).  So, as usual I made the hotel reservations and planned out our three days there.  Then the day before we were scheduled to go to the hotel he said he wouldn’t be able to go the first day because of some stupid awards ceremony he had to attend with Fiona that idiot denim skirt wearing mental midget.  I got angry and yelled at him asking why he’d wanted me to ask for vacation days if he was going to skip out on me the very first day!

He apologized and said his stupid wife told him at the very last minute, and I thought okay no problem I’ll spend that day at the hotel enjoying the pool and having a bottle of wine.  So the next day he calls me at 6am (waking me up of course) to ask what I wanted for breakfast.  I told him that I would get ready so we could go OUT for breakfast and he told me he couldn’t because he didn’t want to be seen by anyone that knows his wife.  That was it, I blew up I no longer had the patience to comply with his stupid requests and I told him that if he wasn’t going to be able to take me to breakfast then I would go alone and hung up on him.  I got ready and I had forgotten I had already told him which hotel I was at and the room number.  As I finished dressing there was a knock on my door and all I flinched, feel regret at giving him the hotel info.

He kept knocking and when I did open the door as I was on my way out, as I walked passed him he grabbed my arm and said “Where are you going?”  I responded “Breakfast” and kept walking to my car.  He stood there not knowing what to do, but I sure as hell knew that this was going to be the very last time he or any man would do this to me.  I drove away not really knowing what was going through his mind.  As I drove into the Denny’s parking lot I found out, it seems emotional vampires don’t like it when you ignore them or spoil their plans.  I had walked into the Denny’s and had been seated when I saw him walk in after me.  He sat down at the booth and I asked him “What do you want Lestat? Why don’t you go home and waste your wife’s time” again he looked surprised.

The waitress had come to take my order and he had asked for coffee, I sighed loudly and looked at him and then he asked me “What’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?” I found this funny because I knew there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with me.  Well, except for being with him that is.  I just proceeded to put creamer in my coffee and look up at him while I took my very first sip.  He kept asking me over and over and I kept ignoring him and finally I said “Well it seems that you didn’t recognize anyone that might know your wife and you didn’t melt into the booth.  It’s occurred to me that you are a fucking coward!”  He looked up and it was almost the same look that he’d given me when I told him he’d treated me bad that day playing chess.  His eyes were intently focused on mine and I kept on saying “So, since we both know you’re a fucking cheating, lying asshole of a coward what do you have to say to that Mr. Good, Hardworking Guy?”

He knew exactly why I had said that and he looked around the restaurant as if to make sure there was really no one he knew then responded with “All I’ve ever done is love you! I’m tired of you telling me I haven’t helped you!” I laughed out loud and said “Then I think you and I have two vastly different ideas of what love and help are” and he looked down at his coffee and said “Let’s just go back to the hotel and we’ll talk there.”  I said that I wasn’t going to let him into the hotel room and he was just going to have to go home to his idiot wife and spend what remained of my two vacation days at home, with his “soul mate.”  I got up and paid for my breakfast and walked out, he followed and in the parking lot of the Denny’s of Montana and Airway Blvd the emotional explosion I knew was bound to happen, happened.

As he followed me to my car and he said “You have no idea what I’ve been through to be with you!” I turned around and before my brain could react, my body did, closing my fist into a ball of hormonal rage and I punched him so hard I could hear my hand striking his face, it wasn’t a slap it was a fucking punch.  The giant opal and sterling silver ring I was wearing scratched him, his cheek, nose and the top of his lip.

Claudia Lestat

He looked back at me with that ‘I can’t believe you just did that’ look and I finally found my voice, I had finally allowed my brain to do the talking instead of my heart and yelled at him “I have NO fucking idea what YOU’VE been through?!?!  You selfish, self-centered BASTARD! How dare you stand there and lecture me on what YOU’VE been through!!  You have no idea what it’s like to sacrifice your entire life for twenty fucking years for a selfish man!  Then for him to tell you that he isn’t going to be able to be with you because he’s too materialistic to get a fucking divorce!! You are a goddamned COWARD, you’re a lying, cheating piece of shit and I am no longer going to allow you to play me anymore!

Listen here cupcake, if you EVER and I do mean EVER contact me again I will make sure that your wife knows about us.  I will make sure that she knows every sordid detail of your twenty year relationship with your girlfriend AND I will tell her that you’ve fucked around with three of her friends and several of her coworkers.  I know where you live, your home number, I know her email address, her cell phone number and where she works and know her office number as well!  So forget EVERYTHING you’ve ever known about me, or what I would do for you because all of that shit is gone motherfucker.  You killed my love, my devotion, my pride and my self-respect so I have nothing and I do mean NOTHING to lose by letting your wife know about you and me!! So don’t you fucking underestimate what I will do if you ever try to contact me again!!!!  I don’t love you anymore, I don’t give a flying fuck what happens to you, you ugly stupid kids or your insipid brain dead wife! I can and will ruin your life so bad it will make losing half your assets in a divorce seem like a goddamned day at Disneyland!!!

He stood there, red in the face where I had punched him as a couple of spectators watched from the front door of the Denny’s.  I was filled with rage, and he genuinely looked hurt both emotionally and physically and I knew he knew I was serious about everything I had said.  At this point in my life I would and could make him suffer for everything he’d put me through and he definitely knew I had nothing to lose.  I unlocked my car and drove back to the hotel and that’s when I broke down, the emotional whirlwind that occurred in the parking lot of the Denny’s had finally caught up with me.  As the rage subsided all I did was cry, I cried more that day than I had in my entire lifetime.  I didn’t leave the hotel room for the two remaining days, all I did was sleep and get up for water and go right back to sleep.

I knew cutting ties with him was going to have to happen in an emotionally violent way, which was the only way he was going to understand I was serious and that this was the end.  I also knew that calling him a coward was going to help in cutting those ties and having them stay that way, no chance of him trying to come back, text me or call me at work.  That was the ultimate one-two punch, as an emotional vampire with an over inflated ego and very proud of who he “believed” he was, the unmasking and forcing him to look into the mirror was going to hit him hard.  I think the first time I saw his vulnerability that day playing chess, telling him he’d treated me bad and then verbalizing to him his cowardice and emotional manipulation was the final blow and the emotional vampire was finally exposed to the sun and began to burn away, like ash.

I also knew that to be able to finally be free of him, I mean really free I was going to have to resort to telling him I would expose his infidelity to his wife as well as letting him know I had proof of the twenty years we spent together.  When I loved him, it never crossed my mind to ever hurt him or destroy the life he had at home, but I now longer loved him and thanks to Terri I was able to accept that.  I’m not going to say that it didn’t hurt, but he hurt me more by stringing me along for twenty years just to feed his emotional sucking, self-serving ego.

That day was a long time in the making and although I didn’t really intend to do it that day or that particular way, there was a sense of relief.  I felt the emotional baggage lift and there was no more black cloud of insecurity or indecision looming over me.  Instead what was left was the void that was filled by Lestat and his scheduled time with me.  There was emptiness now where he used to be, but to be honest there was nothing there before, not really.  Even though I knew I was over him, that I was no longer in love with Lestat there was that space with nothing in it.  A vast gaping vacuum of time and I had nothing to fill it with but one day Terri suggested I start to write and I told her I was exhausted about writing about Lestat and didn’t want to start another journal.  She said “Not a journal, how about you start a blog?” I looked at her with that look you give someone when you think their bat-shit crazy.  She said that starting a blog would help with that void of time and also provide an additional source of therapy.  I asked her “Where the fuck would I even begin to blog about being the mistress of a married man?”  She answered “Start at the beginning and the rest will come as you keep writing.”

It’s going on six months since that day in the Denny’s parking lot and I had written what I believed to be a novel about a mistress and her married boyfriend and everything that had happened in their twenty year relationship.  When I decided to start my blog I broke down what I had written in my journals and the so-called “novel” about Lestat and myself.  I told Terri I felt a bit guilty writing about him and she told me to stop trying to redeem him in any way and since he was no longer a factor in my life I could call him by another name.  So I decided on Lestat because that’s who he reminds me of, Lestat de Lioncourt from an Interview with a Vampire.  That narcissistic, self-serving, vain asshole who did nothing but make Louis’ life a living hell for what remained of his mortal life and the rest of his eternal one. So Claudia takes a stand, slits his throat and then Louis and Claudia feed him to the alligators in the swamp, believing this was a way of ridding themselves of Lestat.  Doing what I did, in a sense was metaphorically feeding him to the alligators, except in public, at the Denny’s.

She finally convinced me to start my blog by saying (and I quote) “Lestat won’t realize anytime soon what he’s done to you because that’s who he is, he is only ever going to care about himself while he’s young enough where he thinks he can go out and find another mistress.  You on the other hand can villainize him anonymously through your blog and only those close to you will know who he really is, and believe me that’s enough for people to make a connection.  But it’s not really villanizing someone when everything they’ve done is true.  Lestat’s wife lives blissfully unaware of what he’s done and how that will impact their marriage in the long run.  When he’s old and his memory is fading the only sure thing he’ll remember is you and that day in the parking lot because then and only then will he finally realize you were the one that got away, that you were the spectacular woman he let slip through his hands. When he’s bored to death of talking and dealing with his wife, which will happen sooner than you think, he will remember everything you ever did for him and for his sake.  But like with all emotional vampires they will only realize when it’s too late and THAT is what will finally kill them.”

Terri helped me learn a very important lesson, relationship addicts are just as susceptible to falling off the wagon as drug addicts.  But I also realized that we will never really get rid of our demons (chemical or human) we simply need to learn to live above them.  That is the key to survival.  Stay tuned for Part 26……

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Part 24…………The Emotional Vampire’s Oedipus Syndrome & His Airline Toilet Seat Personality Spouse.

“Miss the phone calls, when it’s your fault, I miss the late nights, don’t miss you at all, I like the kick in the face, and the things you do to me, I love the way that it hurts, I don’t miss you, I miss the misery” – Halestorm, I Miss The Misery.

A few days after I had demolished his gate I had another session with Terri.  I spent almost half an hour explaining what had happened.  When I was done she sighed (I can never tell if she’s sighing out of habit or in a judg-ey type way) and sat up straight on her chair.  She picked up her pad and pen and looked up at me and began to speak.  “Well, first of all I knew that you had anger towards him because of the culmination of bad emotions that your relationship is causing you.  Also because you’re finally trying to accept that you don’t love him anymore and are addicted to the misery he causes you.” I sat there listening to her, nodding my head going through all the things I did that day and………….what, wait did she just say I was addicted to the MISERY he causes me?!?!

Yes, yes she fucking did! I stopped her and said “Okay Dr. Terri wait a minute……” then she quickly told me to listen to her before I began to question what she said.  She continued “that’s right you heard me, you’re addicted to the misery and pain he’s caused you.  You no longer love him, if you did you wouldn’t have run down his fence with your truck.  So your beginning the hate phase which is a good thing because your subconscious is telling you to move on.  It’s telling you that this thing, this whatever you have with Lestat is finally coming to an end, so accept it.”  The old, in love with Lestat you would have never, ever caused him any personal or financial pain whatsoever.  You got mad over what, a concert ticket? No you got mad over the fact that he actively chose to take his wife to a concert that YOU wanted to see with him.  You realized that he’s never going to choose you over anything in his life, you’re not that important to him.” OMG this bitch was pissing me off! How dare she say something so callus so mean and…….so true.  It didn’t matter how much that asshole motherfucker said he loved me, he didn’t, he loved himself more and it was there the entire twenty years we were together.  I just didn’t see it because I was deeply in love with this emotional vampire.

She stayed quiet almost as if she was letting me absorb the words, the wisdom, the truth and I sat there replaying the entire twenty years of everything I had ever done for him, selflessly, completely in love, doing things I shouldn’t have.  Remembering all the sacrifices I’d made for his sake and the biggest one? Waiting, waiting in vain for a selfish man who would never, ever think I was important enough or loved enough (or at all) to believe I was valuable in any way to tell me he’d leave me alone so I could get on with my life, find somebody new and stop wasting my time.  I cried for what seemed like forever, and Terri let me, not once trying to get me to stop or asking me how I felt or if I was okay.

She could see I wasn’t okay but yet she knew that this was a breakthrough and now my, or should I saw our work began.  Even though I was still trying to process that, one) I wasn’t really in love with this emotional vampire and two) I needed to figure out how to leave him, three) how was I going to get on with my life without the misery.  When I first began my therapy she asked me if I had any kind of outlet for all the emotional turmoil I was going through because of Lestat.  I had told her that I write, that I had a box and a half of journals all written in the span of almost twenty years and all about him.  She once asked me to bring in one of the very first ones I had written and one of the most recent.  I asked her why, she said she wanted to compare my feelings and writing style from the beginning to present.  I thought this was a weird request but I said okay why not?

So I did, she never told me about her thoughts on the two journals I had brought her to review, she just gave them back to me after a week and that was it.  But this last time she asked me to bring in the most recent journal I had, and again I did.  She’s the one that diagnosed me with mild hypographia and I suppose it explains why I feel the constant need to write.  During this visit with her she asked me “Do you remember when I asked you to bring in a couple of your journals when you started coming to see me, then again recently?”  I nodded yes and she continued “Well the reason I did was because I wanted to examine your emotional state from how you were writing in your journals.”  I just kept listening to her but didn’t think much of it and she went back to her desk and picked up a file and came back to sit down in front of me.  She put on her glasses and began to explain to me that her evaluation of my writings when I first began to see Lestat had vastly changed to present day.

I nodded again and said “okay, and?” Then she closed the file and looked at me and began to explain that I had fallen out of love with him a long time ago and that I only held onto him this long because it was like a stale marriage.  She said couples seldom confront the issues going on with their marriage when they don’t want to face the truth about the problems between them.  In my case she explained that I had been with Lestat longer than I was with my ex-husband and that there was no doubt that I love him deeply when we first met.  But she also hit me with a personal fact that I never even thought of.  She said that I had married my ex-husband as a child, a sixteen year old girl who became a wife to an immature eighteen year old.  And over the course of our fourteen and a half year marriage we grew up in different directions and matured differently.  But when I met Lestat at the age of twenty-nine I had fallen in love for the very first time as an adult woman.

She said that was the reason I had the idea in my head that he was the love of my life was because at the time he was, but he changed how I felt about him over the course of twenty years.  She mentioned that my journals reflected how my mind went from writing about how much I loved him and that I would do anything to make him happy, that I would have waited for him forever.  She said one of the oldest journals I wrote was about but how much I loved him, how I had met the greatest love of my life.  Then she mentioned that the latest one was all about how I was tired of him, his indecision and how all I wanted to do was find a way to get on with my life without him in it.  She stayed silent as if almost letting me take in what she had just explained to me, which let’s face it felt like I was hit with a pretty big emotional baseball bat.

I cleared my throat and asked her to explain why she thinks I’m addicted to the misery he’s caused me, saying that it was almost bordering on emotional abuse.  I sat there looking at her, then her cell phone rang and she excused herself to go out an answer the call.  It was as if I was paralyzed, I couldn’t move and tried really hard to think what she mean “almost” bordering on emotional abuse.  The floodgates opened and all the raw untouched emotions came back to hit me square in the face.  Remembering all the horrible things he’d put me through, as if I needed anymore negativity to remember, and sat motionless, memories reeling through my brain like old black and white stock footage, skipping, scratched and faded.  The ill-fated Ruidoso trip where he called me a whore, the Eagle’s concert, him standing me up all the time, being left on I-10 with a flat tire, walking in heels to Walmart, being arrested and calling him for help, sleeping outside in August on an inflatable mattress because there was no power in my house, watching him pass me by on the highway while my car wouldn’t start and him not answering his phone, constantly telling me he never promised me anything, making me eat lunch in my car, ignoring me at the movie theater.

I felt tears start to well up, and somehow Sharleen (my brain) said “NO! You will not cry over him anymore!” (by this point I was really, really tired of crying over this asshole) my brain was right, I was done, he wasn’t worth crying over.  Terri walked back in and apologized for leaving then turned and asked me if I was okay.  I said no that I wasn’t okay and that I felt like I’ve wasted twenty long, agonizing years on a stupid, selfish man who believed I wasn’t valuable enough to walk away from me or let me leave without him trying constantly to change my mind and weasel his way back into my life.  She said that I needed to find that out on my own because her telling me wasn’t going to help, I had to discover what an asshole he really was.

She asked me to sit down and to tell her everything that I had remembered and I did.  She sat quiet listening to me, nodding at all the humiliating details of all the bad Lestat had caused me. After I was done she looked at me and began to give me her analysis of him, my emotional state and how this was going to impact me positively and how it could cause him to come back and try even twice as hard to get back into my life.  She asked me how I saw him after I had remembered everything.  I didn’t know how to answer, I honestly felt lost for the very first time in my adult life I didn’t know what to do or feel.  She said she was going to begin by providing a profile of someone like Lestat and that she was going to get super specific about him and his personality.

I sat back in the chair as she began to explain him and how his thought process worked.  She started at the beginning when he first told me he was going to go back to his wife by saying that he did so out of some sort of faded devotion to her because he felt a certain amount of guilt over leaving her with a five year old and a newborn to take care of.  She said that he would have eventually have left me to go back to her because of his kids.  She asked me about his dad which I thought was weird because what did his father have anything to do with how Lestat turned out as an adult?  It turns out a hell of a lot, she asked how much I knew about his parents and so I told her.  After which she said “Well it seems you know more about his childhood and parents than his wife might” and I shrugged as if it was some sort knowledge that only wives would have.

She said it was, so I kept talking about what I knew about his father and when I got to the part where his dad had an entire “other” family and she stopped me, pointed her finger at me and said “wait a minute here, hold on” as she got up, opened the door to her office and called in her secretary.  She whispered something to her and her secretary nodded and then she closed the door.  That’s when she asked me to continue so I did, I told her that his dad had another family that consisted of two boys and their mom for the better part of Lestat’s life.  When Lestat was about eleven years old his dad took the entire family to California to meet their half-brothers and their mom which really blew her away.  She asked me “His dad took his family here to visit his family there? Where was Lestat’s mom in all of this?”  I told her that Lestat had said his mom told him when he was an adult that she didn’t blame the boys his father had with this other lady.

I remember asking Lestat if his mom ever blamed the “other” woman and he said his mom told him that the other women didn’t know Lestat’s dad had another family until she was dying from cancer.  Terry looked at me, her eyes wide open and said “So his mom didn’t blame the other woman but did she blame her husband?”  I told her that by what Lestat had told me she was completely dependent on his dad, she didn’t work, she didn’t know how to drive or have an education, she was a stay at home mom taking care of seven kids, so she had no choice but to stay with his dad no matter how much she might have wanted to leave.  She sat back with a smile creeping over her face and asked me “Do you see why Lestat is the way he is? And do you see he married a woman exactly like his mother?”  I sat there taking in what she was saying and processing the information she had just given me.  She continued by saying “He married a woman that was dependent on him, he does everything for her because of what his dad put his mom through.  It’s bordering on Oedipus syndrome, he has had daddy issues too but mostly sympathized with his mother so he chose a woman like her. He may have not forgiven his father for doing what he did to his mother therefore decided to return to his wife after they decided to divorce.”

The connections were amazingly obvious and why the fuck hadn’t I seen them before?  She continued “He may never really have forgiven his father and yet emulating his behavior by having a girlfriend as well as his wife.  I know it sounds confusing but do you see the connection?”  I nodded yes then she sat up and said “He married a women exactly like his mom, someone that could be manipulated and so dependent on him she would never divorce him.  Then he met you, a woman who thought for herself and whom he taught how to take care of herself financially, albeit in a cruel manner.  Then he saw that you couldn’t be manipulated like his wife and when you began to question his thinking, his authority so to speak, he didn’t know how to react to you pushing back. To put it in simple terms, you are a strong independent, self-sufficient woman who doesn’t really need him.  If he had married you, you would have eventually seen his true character and would have divorced him.  He, on the other hand would have never divorced you because he can’t take that kind of rejection, especially from you so he never committed to you.  He stayed with a woman who would never think for herself and would never leave him, like his mom never left his dad.”

I looked at her, bewildered and she continued by saying that the bottom line was that he couldn’t handle being with someone as intelligent, independent and as strong willed as I am.  She referenced when he had bought his wife the SUV and what I had told him that day during lunch, how I would have taken the car back to the dealership.  She said they (Lestat and Fiona) are both tied into each other financially and it doesn’t matter how much he loved me (if he did at all) or how much Fiona wanted a divorce they have only ever thought of the material losses to their lives.  Lestat with half of his assets and Fiona losing the stability of a two income household that she’s gotten so use to having, not to mention not doing anything remotely responsible because he does everything for her.  It didn’t matter that her personality was akin to something you’d catch from sitting on an airplane toilet seat (thanks Maggie!).

I told her this “revelation” didn’t make me feel any better, and she looked at me and said “Okay then maybe this will, you can see that he acts the way he does because of how his dad treated his mother and how he looked to emulate his dad in his behavior while trying to stay true to his mom by marrying someone that was just as complicit but also easy manipulated.  He was never going to be able to do that to you and I do mean NEVER.  He sees and realizes you are smarter than his wife but also smarter and stronger than he could ever be and he doesn’t want to be outsmarted by anyone, let alone a woman like you.  Someone who’s been through so much despite being knocked down emotionally, physically and mentally you are still standing in spite of everything he’s done to you.”  I asked her “So then he’s afraid of how I might have treated him if we’d stayed together?”  She nodded and said “Exactly, you’ve already outsmarted him by realizing that he, how did you say, Myagied you.  He thought he was going to break you like he did his wife.”   Break me, huh…….interesting. Stay tuned for Part 25……

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Part 23………………………………Fishing for an Apology and a Remorseful Vampire

“I don’t need you to worry for me ’cause I’m alright, I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home, I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life, Go ahead with your own life leave me alone”- Billy Joel, My Life

I got to work the following morning and as I got off the rental truck, I saw a familiar truck parked two parking spaces away.  I looked at it and rolled my eyes, got my things and walked towards my office.  Lestat got down and said “Can I please talk to you? Please?” I asked him “What exactly do you want to talk to me about Lestat?”  He looked towards the ground, his mouth twisted to one side, and his eyes looked everywhere but in my direction and he said “Just please let me talk to you.  Let’s go get some coffee.”  I was always at work about forty five minutes early every day and I just said “fine” and we walked towards his truck.  As we went for coffee we stayed silent, listening to the radio and then the Eagles song Love Will Keep Us Alive came on.  I reached over and changed the station.  That’s when he spoke and said “Why’d you do that for?” I glared at him and he just said “Sorry” and I sat back as he handed me my coffee.

As we drove back onto campus he finally said “You know, what you did last night could have gotten you arrested” and I responded with “Oh yeah? By whom? If you think that for one minute I’d be afraid of you calling the cops your mistaken.  And you know why?  Because that means you’d have to explain to fat ass Fiona why you were filing a police report in the first place.  I’m not stupid Lestat, if you want to call the police go ahead and let’s see how that goes for you.”  I was thinking he might want some sort of apology for the rental truck gate thing, but he wasn’t going to get one, not from me, not ever.  He drank his coffee in silence and looking away and then I said “Thanks for the coffee and small talk but I have to get to work so I’ll see you later” and got my things and turned to open the door to his truck.  He grabbed my arm and said “I love you, I hope you know that” and I turned to look at him and stayed silent, I didn’t say anything as I got off his truck in front of my office.  As I walked in the door the office phone was already ringing, I just put all my stuff down and sat there at my desk, watching the phone indicator light flash on and off…….

Realizing, I mean really realizing that I had been in a twenty year relationship with a man who had lied to me the entire time was a very bitter pill to swallow.  Some will even call it stupid, blind and emotional denial, it was all of those things.  Somehow I knew in the back of my mind around year thirteen that there was something very wrong with how the course of my relationship with Lestat was going.  But at that point in time I was still very much in love with him but in spite of us breaking up on a regular basis then getting back together in between trying online dating on my part and his constant need for sexual gratification wherever he could get it, it became even more toxic.  Then having to deal with his constant indecision about me, his marriage and our future in general got to be a bit too much emotional baggage to deal with.

I began therapy until 2014 and it was a long time overdue.  Lestat asked me why I thought I needed therapy and at first I answered him saying it was because of all the issues I had regarding my mom, her mental instability and narcissism.  Since he knew my mom and dad he knew what I had gone through with my mom throughout the years.  Yes, you heard that right my parents knew I was dating a married man.  How could that be? Well the fact that when I met Lestat he was separated and in the process of getting a divorce then he back tracked and decided to go back into what I thought was a loveless marriage for the sake of his perfect, Stepford children which of course was bullshit.  But I know that now, then it wasn’t so clear because I was still wearing those rose colored, deceiving glasses of love.

Thank God for Terri and her amazing ability to make me see things I had refused to see and try to come to terms with them.  As previously mentioned Lestat had been helpful a few times like when I moved into my apartment or when I needed things done around my house.  Also when my car needed to be tuned or washed or small stuff like that.  I say small stuff because Terri made me realize that I was trying to make excuses for Lestat rather than seeing him for who he was.  She said I was “trying to redeem him in ways that were unredeemable” and I didn’t see it and when she pointed out those things to me it made me angry.  She didn’t know him the way I did, she didn’t love him or go through all the struggles that I had for and with him.  I mean he was perfect (at first) and I argued that fact with her for three entire sessions.  Then she asked me to tell her about him and his “supportive and loving nature.”  So I did and in the course of doing so I realized I was alone in spite of being in a relationship with a man I thought I loved.

In the winter of 2003 I began working at UTEP, I had been applying there when one of my ex friends (remember tuna girl, serial divorcee and getting pregnant to snag a man friends?) well it was Hilly (getting pregnant to snag a man) who suggested I start applying at UTEP because she worked there and it was a state job with great benefits.  For an entire year I applied and way before it was online, I had to print out the application, fill it out, attach my resume and physically take it to human resources on campus.  It was a long and tedious process but Lestat kept telling me it would be worth it. So when I would tell him I was going to apply for another position, he’d tell me he would pick me up at my current workplace (we’d do this during my lunch hour) and drive me to UTEP so I could drop off my application.  He drove me because parking on campus was a complete nightmare.  He thought driving me would save time this way I could walk in, drop off what I need and he’d pick me up then he’d buy me lunch and we’d eat in his truck or my car and he’d drive me back to work.

This went on for an entire year and I had plenty of interviews but no job offers. Then finally on January 21, 2003 I got a job in the College of Education.  I was over the top ecstatic and so was Lestat, he said that since I was working at a University I didn’t have an excuse to NOT go to school.  One of the very few times he was right, I began my new job and it took me a while longer to start school.  In 2005 I transferred to a different department and my boss let me take classes during the day.  So I began my undergrad career in the summer of 2005 with summer session classes as a “non-traditional” student which is a nice way of saying older students that work.  My classes began at 7:30am until 9:30am so that meant I had to be on campus by 7am every day for May and June.  Then I took a lunch class in July and a night class that went from 5pm to 9pm, needless to say it was a very hectic time for me.  But every morning during my first classes at 7:30am Lestat would show up with breakfast and coffee and we’d have breakfast together in his truck or my car.  I thought (at the time) it was very romantic, that is until my therapist pointed out it was more so he didn’t have to be seen with me out in public at a restaurant.

That is when I had a flashback, memories that I guess I had chosen to bury in the deep, dark recesses of my mind.  Terri had asked me what I was thinking about, I told her that I now remember having lunch with Lestat while I was at UTEP and it consisted of me ordering food over the phone, picking it up and eating in either his truck or my car at Madeline Park in Kern Place, which was the closest park to where I worked.  We would eat during the summer with the air conditioner and car or truck running for an hour, safe and out of view from prying eyes.  Not once did he ask if I wanted to have a sit down lunch at a restaurant. Actually I take that back the only time he’d invite me, I mean INVITE me out to lunch was when I was dating someone else.  When he needed to get laid and wanted to get back into my good graces and my pants.  When I was dating Jeff he invited me to lunch often and I would refuse.  Then he’d say “come on go to lunch with me please, anywhere you want to go.  I’ll take you to Crave, I’ll get there early so I can get us a table” and that’s when I’d go out to eat at a restaurant with him.

Terri turned to her pad and began writing as I remembered what it was like in the beginning, tears filled my eyes and the warm saline fell down my cheeks.  It was humiliating, but I allowed it, I didn’t ask anymore of him.  I gave him everything when it came to me, he never once worked to earn my love and undying devotion, ever! How could have I been so stupid, how could I have allowed myself to go through that and not realized what he was doing to me?  Even though when we met we dated outright, I mean he was separated and I was divorced and we actually had a wonderful two years before his decision to go back to his lazy-eyed wife, but I honestly couldn’t remember what it was like to date him before the relationship apocalypse happened.  When did it become an affair and not a relationship because it sure as hell didn’t start out that way so how did it end up so fucked up?  I fell in love with a man who told me that he was getting a divorce and then went back to his wife so he could “be there” for his kids.

And where did that leave me? In love, in the middle of a relationship I had tried several times to end with no success, and now in therapy to come to terms with the last twenty years of my life with a narcist (why the fuck does spell check tell me that narcist isn’t a fucking word?!?). Worse a narcist, emotional vampire who took advantage of my devotion and love for him to exploit it in order to get everything he didn’t from that imbecilic waste of space he calls a wife. Terri listened to me for over an hour she could see that the memories I had blocked were all bad, and I was trying to justify Lestat’s behavior with the small amount of good he’d done in my life.  She emphasized “small” amount of good when she explained to me that even those small gestures were all self-serving no matter how I much I wanted to see him as having really loved me.

Terri and I began to talk about when I realized that Lestat was indeed an asshole narcist and it had begun right before I started therapy.  I told her about Kyle, Jeff and Waldo (the biggest relationship regret ever) and how I started to notice Lestat getting older and how his habits were more and more annoying as well as how I had been Myagied by him.  She said to me “so in reality he turned you into an independent woman?”  And I looked at her, stunned because I had known that all his financial responsibility lessons were harsh but I never realized that, yes he had. She emphasized how little he had really done for me and how he tried to teach me with harsh abandonment when I needed him the most.  He turned me into a survivor and she said “So you can survive him too, it’s not impossible you just have to want it bad enough.”  Stay tuned for part 24………..

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Happy Valentine’s Day to You and Your Dodge Duster!

Carmine: “Red roses, lovely, romantic. The guy that sends these really knows what he’s doing.”

Loretta: “The guy who sends those spends a lot of money on something that’s going to end up in the garbage.” – Moonstruck, 1987.

Well it’s Valentine’s Day, that wonderful holiday where tons of red roses will be delivered to assumingly unaware women all over the country and thousands of pounds of chocolate will accompany them (don’t even get me started about how men get shortchanged on this holiday, I have three boys remember?)  In my office some, not all of the women get beautiful sprawling bouquets of roses, flower arrangements, boxes of chocolate and the occasional stuffed animal.  Oh, and let’s not forget balloon bouquets as well, those shiny mylar globes of happiness…

This is not going to be one of those Grinchy “I hate Valentine’s Day” posts, because I’ve had a couple of noteworthy Valentine’s Day’s with flowers and boxes of chocolates.  But, I wanted to share a Valentine’s Day story from my youth because not all Valentine’s Days are happy for everyone and not everyone’s Valentine’s Day is spent with their significant other.  And sometimes, every once in a while, Valentine’s Day plans don’t go exactly how you wanted them to but due to certain circumstances, you realize that the outcome might have been better than what you had planned.  So here I go……..

In 1983 I was fourteen and in the 8th grade, I made my way as best I could through the hustle and bustle that was my junior high school, which was also the high school.  My hometown was so small that the junior high and high schools were combined.  Which I suppose logistically made sense.  So not only did I have to navigate my way through all the junior high angst but I also had to deal with older, more experienced mean high schoolers.  In the 7th grade I made it to be a crossing guard, and one of the high school girls decided she’d baptize me with a nickname, calling me “pumpkin face” because I was in dire need of braces.  In any case, that was just one of the horrible experiences of junior high I managed to get through barely scared (notice how I said barely).

But in the 8th grade I had caught the attention of a boy, not just any boy but an older boy.  He was a sophomore and I was over the moon in “like” with him.  I didn’t know what love was back then but I knew what like was.  Over the course of the winter months we talked and we’d walk to school together because the school bus would drop students off near my house and then they’d walk a short distance to the high school.  So we’d walk and talk together then one day in late January he asked me if I wanted to go to the Valentine’s Day dance.  I was in heaven, I mean this was the very first boy that had ever and I do mean EVER paid attention to me.  I hung around with a group of girls and we were all friends but there were definitely two distinct groups in our little “gang.”  In one group were the “pretty” girls, the girls that all the guys wanted to hang out with and then there were the “athletic” girls.  Those of us who played basketball, softball and were on the track team and we were also the girls that were approached by boys and asked if we could go ask our “pretty” girlfriends if they’d like to talk or pass them a note.

Or those girls that were asked if you could hold the pretty girls coats, purses or whatever needed holding at dances or any other social occasion.  So when this boy asked me to the dance I was elated to say the least. I told all my friends and they were excited for me.  I told my mom who asked me who this boy was and I told her and she said “okay, what do you need?”  I said I needed a dress and some shoes because well I played sports and my junior high wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts and running shoes.  So she bought me a very pretty red dress and some patent leather heels, the dress was strapless and I loved it.  So this boy who we’ll call Ruben reminded me that we had a date for the Valentine’s Day dance.  As luck would have it, the dance was going to be held at the elementary school gym across the street from my house as the high school gym was dealing with a little problem called asbestos and being “renovated.”

So as the big day approached I began to primp, curl and accessorize, with absolutely no help from my mom.  A couple of my friends helped and I was excited, beyond excited.  Well the day arrived and it was Friday night and I got home to quickly begin my transformation.  The elementary gym across the street was abuzz with all kinds of activity, electrical equipment, decorations, lighting all that jazz.  The dance was going to begin at 7pm and Ruben said he’d walk over to my house to pick me up.  He said he had a car and I was curious to see it since I hadn’t seen him take it school.  So I was ready by 6:30 and my palms were beginning to sweat and I must have checked my makeup about a thousand times.  My parents weren’t home that day, it was payday for my dad and so they went about doing their payday errands and that meant they wouldn’t be home until way after nine that night.

I sat in my living room watching the parking lot in the school across the street begin to fill up with all kinds of cars.  Then when there was no more room in the small parking lot, people began to park on the street which meant in front of our house.  I looked at the clock on the wall and it was already 7:19pm (it’s funny the small things one remembers about certain moments in our lives) and I was beginning to worry.  I decided to sit outside on our front porch to wait for him, that way he didn’t have to come all the way into the yard.  That’s when I saw a brown Dodge Duster pullup to park on the opposite side of the street, right in front of the elementary school.  Then Ruben got out, and waved at me, I got up and began to walk towards the fence door and I opened it and latched it behind me as I stepped out onto the street.

He waved again and he had a big smile on his face, which made me feel pretty good and then he walked around his car to the passenger side door and opened it.  I began to walk across the street towards his car and then a very pretty girl was getting out of his car on the passenger side.  Her name was Sofia Ray and she was a Junior Varsity cheerleader, I felt my entire body go ice cold as I held onto the beautiful black satin wrap that one of my friend’s mom’s had lent me.  I stood there still smiling at him frozen in the middle of the street, like I didn’t know what else to do or how to react.  He waved at me a third time as she took his arm and then she whispered something in his ear and he shrugged his shoulders.  I’m assuming she asked him who I was and he said he didn’t know and walked right past me, up the steps into the gym and disappeared into the flashing colored lights and bombastic sound of the night’s activities.

I was still in the middle of the road looking into the gym doors as if he might come back out and explain what had just happened.  At that moment an approaching car honked at me and I snapped out of it quickly, scared half to death.  The loud honk woke me up but only to realize that I had been the butt of a very cruel joke.  I was the plot line from the film Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore before that movie was ever conceived.  I began to walk down to the small plaza in front of the Catholic Church. It had a large gazebo and was surrounded by trees and in the early 80’s it didn’t have but one light on the corner so I had the gift of solitude and darkness so no one could see me cry.  I couldn’t bear the thought of going back home and having to answer a thousand questions from my unsympathetic mother.  Half way there I had to take off the new heels that I was wearing because they hadn’t been broken in.  By the time I got to the plaza my pantyhose were torn and running up my leg and my feet were dirty from the asphalt of the street.

knife heart

As I sat there I heard voices coming from a distance and a one of my friends who lived two blocks from the church saw me and started to walk towards me.  She said hi in a real cheerful tone and I just waved at her and she automatically said “Hey I thought you were going to the dance?”  I just nodded my head no, and she got closer she said “What’s wrong, what happened?”  I couldn’t speak and then she asked her boyfriend to hold her bag of chips, he was from a different school and about seventeen at the time and although I knew who he was I just didn’t want him to know what happened to me, I didn’t want him to know about my humiliation.

She knelt down in from of me and then asked again what had happened, I told her the entire, sad brutal story of what had just transpired in the last forty-five minutes.  My friends name was Toni (short for Antonietta, she hated her name) she was older than I was about sixteen and I had met her in track.  We weren’t close friends but she was one of the few older girls in high school that was nice to me whenever I saw her, she always talked to me and made me feel less of a loser than many of the other high school “pretty girls.”  She was beautiful, athletic and she’s the one that got the other girl that called me pumpkin face to stop.

As soon as I had finished telling her about my ordeal she quickly got up and yelled at her boyfriend “Joey! Go get your car NOW!”  He walked towards her and she whispered something in his ear, he looked at me and nodded his head and left into the darkness.  She sat with me and she didn’t make me talk (she smelled of Love’s Baby Soft perfume and AquaNet hairspray) she just held my hand, sitting there in silence until we saw the headlights of Joey’s 1972 gold Olds Cutlass Supreme.  She took my hand and said “Come on” and I asked her “Where are we going?”  She said “You’ll see” and she told Joey to open the trunk to his car, as he got out he smiled and said “Don’t worry, we’re going to take care of him” and I wondered what the fuck are they talking about?

He turned on the flashlight he was holding and Toni began to look through his trunk.  She said out loud “Found it” and then Joey reached in and pulled out a tire iron and closed the trunk.  I felt like I was in the middle of Goodfellas and Henry and Karen Hill were about to get me in a whole mess of trouble.  We all climbed into Joey’s car and drove towards my house and as Joey passed the four way stop he began to slow down.  That’s when Toni asked me “Which one is his car?” Shocked and a bit bewildered I pointed to the shit brown Dodge Duster parked in front of the school gym.  Joey kept driving until we got to the end of the street and parked in front of one of my neighbor’s houses.  She looked back at me as I sat in the backseat and said “We’ll be right back okay, don’t leave because we’re taking you to McDonalds later, wait here.”

They got out of the car, Joey grabbed his leather jacket from the backseat beside me, Toni got her letterman jacket from her lap and she turned to him and said “ready?” and he nodded yes and they got off the car and began to walk towards the school.  They held hands and Toni looked back and me and gave me a wink as they walked hand in hand.  I saw them walk past the gym into the darkness as their two shadows disappeared.  I waited and waited for what seemed forever.  But in reality it was only about ten minutes.  I sat in the back of Joey’s car, it smelled of Brut cologne and Armor All, he had tons Muscle Car magazine’s on the floor.  I began to feel some of the humiliation start to subside as cars passed on the road, headlights glowing in the distance.  Then I heard talking, laughing and then the sound of tennis shoes running on asphalt in the dark and I saw Toni and Joey coming towards the car and quickly got in.

The doors slammed so fast and Joey started his car up making the tires squeal as he drove us in the opposite direction.  They kept their word and took me to McDonalds which was about fifteen miles away, it was the closest one to the small town we lived in.  We sat there in a booth facing the street watching the traffic pass by, and I asked them what they had done and they laughed and said “Oh nothing really, eat your fries” and they laughed some more.  By the time the night was coming to a close we drove back to San Eli laughing and singing along to the radio, Duran Duran’s Hungry like the Wolf.  I’m sure it wasn’t the Valentine’s Day they had planned on, but then again it wasn’t what I had planned on either.  As we turned the corner to my house I saw flashing lights and people gathered around across the street from my house.  Joey drove slowly and into my drive way and Toni said “Okay girl, have a good night and I’ll see you on Monday at practice” and I nodded and then said “Thanks guys, for everything.”  Joey smiled at me and then he whispered “Hey, make sure that you tell everyone you were with us tonight okay? Just to be safe” then he winked at me and him and Toni looked at each other and smiled as I got off the car. I looked back at Karen and Henry Hill as they pulled out of my driveway, onto the street and watched the red lights of that gold Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme disappear into the night.

I walked towards my house with my shoes in my hand, just then one of the Sheriff’s deputy’s moved his car and that’s when I saw it, what remained of the crappy Dodge Duster that Ruben had driven his cheerleader girlfriend to the dance in.  All the windows, ALL THE WINDOWS were smashed, his windshield wipers were bent up, all four of his tires were not just flat, and they were slashed!  I watched that asshole prick Ruben crying, I mean really crying as the deputy was asking him questions.  I couldn’t believe what Toni and Joey had done, I mean they had really gone to town on this guy’s car, or should I say his older brother’s car as I found out later.  That’s probably why he was crying, he knew he was going to get his ass kicked but that’s just an assumption.  My dad was at the fence talking to another neighbor and they were talking about how there weren’t any street lights on our street and how it was dangerous at night.

I stood there beside my dad looking at that mess of a car and even bigger mess of a prick that drove it there and finally he looked up at me, eyes all red, tears running down his face and I smiled (sarcastically of course) and waved at him as I walked into my house.  That night I went to bed feeling a bit vindicated and not as sorry for myself because I actually had a pretty good time with Toni and Joey that Valentine’s night.  I fell asleep and never thought about Ruben and his crappy car or the cruel joke he played on me, until I wrote this post.  The year after the Dodge Duster incident four streetlights were installed on my street……thanks Toni and Joey, wherever you are!

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Part 22……………………….The Eagles, A Rental Truck, Van Helsing and Two Bottles of Beer.

“Got those pretty little straps around your ankles, got those shiny little chains around your heart, you got to have your independence, But you don’t know just where to start” – The Eagles, Those Shoes

Trying to come to terms that Lestat really hadn’t helped me when I needed it and those small gestures I believed he did out of love, I found were only to keep me in his debt and in his emotional grasp.  My therapist held up a mirror to what I believed were feelings of love only to find that I had been poisoned by the emotional vampire I had fallen deeply in love with in my inexperienced youth.  Looking into that mirror was something I had been avoiding for a long time, because I knew the truth about him I just believed wholeheartedly he would change.  But as Terri had explained, realizing this was the easy part, it was going to be a fight both emotionally and physically to break the vampires grip on me.

During our last reconciliation together, which lasted nine months we went through the usual phases of making up, being excited to be together and then it would fade into the same old dull song and dance.  He was excited to be having sex again, well I mean with someone who knew what kind of sex he liked.  I realized the very moment we were done with our reconciliation honeymoon relations I thought to myself “what the fuck am I doing back here again?”  He was, of course okay with it but I began to feel stifled and bored.  The same old routine of getting up in the morning to have coffee, make us breakfast and watch the morning news was getting to be too much trouble.  Terri had said that when I start to feel like anything I do for Lestat is getting to be too much trouble and not worth the effort is when I am already beginning to let go and it was a good thing.

You shouldn’t feel like that with someone you love.  I remember being very confused and thinking to myself why do I feel like this, I love him.  It took a while for it to sink in that I wasn’t in love with Lestat anymore, I was an addict to his presence in my life.  WTF?! Yep, it was true because I had to recall when it was that I was happy and I mean truly happy being with him and it was over ten years ago.  This last reconciliation was in December of 2017, which meant I had to spend the holiday’s alone (well not alone but you get the idea) like I had for the past twenty years.  So I began 2018 unsure of Lestat’s presence in my life and constantly wondering why I was still allowing him to stay.  And questioning whether I was still really in love with him (see how much I doubted myself?).

I’m going to share something one of my uncles told me one time, his name was Manuel, he was my mom’s brother.  I had just separated from my ex-husband I hadn’t met Lestat yet and I was talking to him about my impending divorce.  He asked me “Do you still love your husband? Do you feel like you should try and fix things with him, for you and the boys?”  I quickly (and I do mean quickly) responded and said “no, I feel nothing I’m numb and all I feel towards him is hate and believe me I don’t even want to hate the dude, I just don’t want to give him any power over me at all.”  He took a sip of coffee and smiled, he stayed quiet for a second and then said “Well the fact that you know feeling anything towards him, even hate is giving him power over you then you’re already ahead of the game.  If you feel hate for him, it will go away and one day you will only feel indifference and that’s when you know you are done.  But hate, animosity and sheer rage are sometimes the gateway to feeling nothing at all, as long as you don’t act on those emotions.  When you get to the hate phase you know indifference isn’t far behind and then you know you’re on your way to moving on.”

Now my uncle was a good, kind and generous man and I have always wondered how he came by such sage advice?  I mean one would have to think that he had to go through something serious to have learned such a hard lesson, right?  But I have always remembered that conversation with him.  I mentioned this to my therapist, and she agreed with his message just not quite how he said it but she explained why.  She said that there are stages of emotions one goes through and anger, hate, resentment are some of them but the first one is mourning.  I thought to myself, mourning? Are you serious?  What the fuck do I have to mourn?  Of course after she explained it, it all made sense.  Even though I was now beginning to accept that I was no longer in love with Lestat as well as that I am an addict to whatever it was we had I also had to mourn the loss of my relationship, losing the dream of being with the man that I believed (at one time) was the love of my life.

I went through weeks of trying to figure out my feelings all the while dealing with Lestat being back in my life.  And here’s the kicker, it was easier to pretend with Lestat than to try and make it work, go figure?  Maybe because trying to make it work was exhausting to the point where I wanted to fucking kill him.  Pretending made it easier not to care, not to worry about his feelings, how he felt and it made it easier to dismiss a lot of shit he did and said.  It was easier to not feel jealousy, not care that he had to go home early, and not care whether or not his businesses were doing well or how he felt physically.  That’s when I think he began to sense something was wrong. It also made it easier to push back, like I did when I told him I thought I was smarter than both him and his wife.   In the past I would have never, ever even thought about telling him something so controversial.  That’s when I realized when I was actually, deeply in love with him I’d allow him get away with all kind of shit, threats of leaving me, telling me he didn’t promise me anything, standing me up when we had plans, not answering my phone calls, telling me he had to use two condoms because he didn’t want “me” to get him sick, all the things narcissists use to manipulate their prey.

All that came back in a flood of emotions, and it made me blind rage angry!  And that’s when I began to push back, and I saw how he wouldn’t fight with me as much or he’d be the one to say I’m sorry.  Or if we did fight I would be determined to leave and he’d apologize and ask to come back (he’d always be the one to ask to come back). In therapy I discovered that emotional vampires will usually leave when they don’t get their way.  But Terry said because he already knew no one else was going to treat him and give him what I did that’s why he’d keep coming back.  She also said I need to break that cycle in order to get away from him and finally leave for good.  But that didn’t mean that he didn’t get his jabs in every so often like when the Eagles came to El Paso in 2015, I had mentioned that I wanted to go when it was announced a year before they would be coming to town.

Of course that’s his favorite band and up until then mine as well.  He said he would try to see if he could go with me, if not he’d get me tickets so I could go with my middle son who is a musician.  As the concert drew closer he kept telling me that the only tickets left were super expensive (yeah the mofo has a goddamned Corvette, a “vacation” house in San Antonio he could have easily afforded $150 tickets). So the concert came and went and “we” didn’t go, or so I thought.  One afternoon I was at his office and saw he had a ticket stub framed and on his desk.  I picked it up and looked at it while he was in his workshop grabbing us a couple of beers and as he walked in he saw what I was looking at.  As I looked up at him he stopped dead in his tracks and almost turned white.  I stood there just, holding the small picture frame with the ticket stub in it.  My blood boiled underneath my skin, my fangs began to slowly come out and my breathing became labored and I calmly askes him “Did you go to the Eagles concert?”

He walked towards me with the bottles of Budweiser in his hands and he put them down on the desk as he grabbed me from my shoulders, looking me straight in the eyes and said “I did go” and then I asked him “Did you go alone?” and he let out a loud sighed as if he knew that whatever answer he was going to give me wasn’t going to be the right one.  He finally said “No, I didn’t go alone, you know who I went with” as he walked back to sit down on the leather couch.  My grip on the picture frame got tight as I began to set it down next to the bottles of beer on his desk.  But right before I did, he turned to sit on the couch and I threw the picture frame at him as hard as I could.  I mean I hadn’t tried so hard to throw something that fast since I played softball in junior high.

I saw everything in slow motion, the frame flying through the air, Lestat slowly sitting down and then looking up as the frame missed his head by inches, it hitting the beige wall behind him, glass and wood shattering into pieces, flying in all directions around him.  If anyone’s ever seen the movie Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman, there’s a scene where he and Dracula face off and they finally see each other for who they are for the very first time, two monsters.

Van Helsing

Van Helsing turns into a huge, menacing (albeit handsome) black werewolf and Dracula turns into a grotesque flying monster that he’s been hiding underneath his smooth talking handsome facade.  That’s exactly what that very moment felt like, Lestat and his creation staring each other down, in an anger filled the room.  He quickly got up from the couch and he yelled at me “what the fuck?!  What did you want me to do, leave my wife home while I went to the concert alone?  Don’t you think she was going to ask why I wasn’t taking her?!”  I saw that there was nothing left of the ticket stub that he had carefully preserved in the small picture frame.  The impact and glass had shattered not just the frame and glass but the paper ticket stub and it lay in pieces on his office floor.

I stood there shaking with rage, my cold heart dead silent.  Lucky for me Charlene (my brain) was awake and in good spirits ready to respond.  I looked up at him and yelled at his dumb ass “If you didn’t want me to know you went to the Eagles concert with your insipid wife you shouldn’t have framed the goddamned ticket stub and put it here on your desk where you know I would eventually see it!  Second, YES YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE HER BECAUSE YOU’VE TOLD ME OVER AND OVER SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE THE EAGLES! I KNOW ALL SHE LISTENS TO SELINA GOMEZ AND ONE DIRECTION LIKE THE FUCKING MENTAL MIDGET SHE IS!!! AND THAT YOU WERE GOING TO TRY AND TAKE ME!!!”  I could see the confusion on his face because I had never, and I do mean never displayed any kind of anger like I did that day in front of him or towards him.  He started to walk towards me and I stepped back and said “You are a lying piece of shit you know that?  You told me the tickets were too expensive and that ticket stub was for a $350 ticket (fifth row seats no less) you bought $700 worth of tickets for you and that idiot you call a wife to go and see a band you told me you wanted to see WITH ME!!”

I looked at him and then said “I hope to hell it was worth your time and money asshole!” then he said “she didn’t even enjoy it, she was bored the entire time” and I turned to get my purse to leave and said “Good, it sounds like that seems to be the theme of your entire marriage, BORING, but it makes me wonder, who’s bored of who?!” His expression changed drastically and appeared even more confused at how I was acting (or should I say reacting). Then I remembered that I had parked the rental car I had inside his office gates, actually it was a brand spanking new 2015 Ford F-150.  I had a rental car because I was getting my car fixed, it needed to be painted because some stupid lady tried to pass me at a stop light with her Jeep and scraped the back fender of my Ford Fusion.  I asked him to open the gate and he just said “no.”  I responded with “open the fucking gate Lestat or I swear I’m going to leave whether you open it or not!”  He smirked and said “I’d like to see you try,” I think he realized at that very moment maybe he shouldn’t have said what he did because I picked up one of the bottles of beer from his desk and threw it at him.

It flew past him and straight into the doorway leading to his workshop, beer and glass splashing all over the door the filing cabinet and his drafting table.  He looked at me and sat down on his desk chair, crossing his arms in defiance.  I got my purse, picked up the remaining bottle of beer and walked out as I looked for the keys to that beautifully polished rental truck in his driveway.  I unlocked the truck and got in, he stood at the back door to his shop and looped the keys to the gate through his fingers as a taunt.  I sat there not once taking my eyes off of him, opened the bottle of beer, drank half and opened the window, threw the bottle against his building and started the truck.  It was almost as if fate was egging me on because as soon as I started the truck the satellite radio came on and Alanis Morissette’s song “You Oughta Know” came on, the soundtrack for what I did next.  I put the truck in reverse, he heard me rev up that Ford eight cylinder engine and his eyes got wide as he began to run towards the truck.  Right then and there I put my brand new black patent leather high heel on the gas. I knew there was no one in back of the truck or the driveway behind the chain link fence doors he’d padlocked when I arrived, and I hit that pedal.  I heard the tires screech and that truck had no problem taking down those two padlock chained doors while I backed all the way out of his driveway.  I could hear the fence doors hitting the tailgate, then the bumper and finally the concrete. I put the truck in drive, dragging the two doors a good twenty feet or so into the street because one caught on the edge of the bumper, making bright orange sparks in the evening twilight.  They finally came loose and I saw him in my rear view mirror walking towards the mess that remained of his fence.  I think he knows who won that argument that day.

My phone rang incessantly for two hours after that little incident but I didn’t answer, and oddly enough I didn’t cry either.  Stay tuned for Part 23……..